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Your outdoor guide to 2018

When are the bluebells out? What’s the best month for butterflies? Where can I see red squirrels? Each season in the forest has something special to offer. Follow our guide and decide when the best time for your Forest Holiday is.

Winter in the forest

January dawns bright, with clear skies, frosty mornings and the possibility of snow. With bare trees, winter wildlife is easier to spot and we get regular sightings of our resident pine martens and red squirrels at Strathyre.

In the night sky, look for the constellation of Orion, best around mid-January. Even in this darkest of months, life stirs, with catkins on the hazel trees and snowdrops emerging from the forest floor.

February spins out the winter… but something shifts. By the end of the month, we have 2 hours more daylight and spring is on the horizon. Look for purple and yellow crocuses in forest clearings and frog and toad spawn in the pools and ponds. With no full moon in the month this year, the stargazing is good too.

Discover your perfect winter break.

Spring in the forest

March awakens the senses. Hares box in the fields, chiffchaffs lead the bird migration season and daffodils burst into yellow flower, promising sunshine ahead.

The vernal equinox brings equal daylight and darkness and banishes winter to the past. With an R in the month, it’s peak time to collect mussels from the banks of the loch at Ardgartan Argyll.

April picks up the pace. Easter reminds us that new life is all around. Birds arrive in their millions, among them the cuckoos can be heard, and insects take to the wing looking for the first pollen-bearing blossom. The Blackthorn at Thorpe Forest is laden with creamy white blossom and in Forest of Dean, wild garlic fills the air with its aroma, perhaps the first of the forage-able plants.

May sees the spring blossom in full flower, attracting bees and butterflies. In the mountains above the treeline at Beddgelert Snowdonia, our newest location, the delicate Snowdon Lily comes into flower. 

Bluebells carpet the forest floors, none more glorious than those at Blackwood Forest. Leaves bud and, by the end of the month, the landscape is a verdant green. Look for Jupiter in the night sky, at its brightest on 9 May.

Plan your springtime escape.

Summer in the forest

June establishes the summer. Swallows circle in the skies above, foxgloves and fragrant honeysuckle adorn the hedgerows and dragonflies and damselflies skit across ponds. In the summer dusk, bats and moths flit silently through the forest, including the Daubenton’s bats at Deerpark. On 21 June, we enjoy the longest day of the year.

July and we reach peak summertime. Poppies appear in the cornfields and hedgerows and buddleia attracts the painted lady butterflies, whose parents arrived in their hundreds of thousands last month, all the way from Africa. The purple heather on the North York Moors, near to Cropton and Keldy, is reputedly visible from space, and talking of space, look out for the full lunar eclipse on 27 July.

August turns the landscape golden, fruits ripen, and you might see fledgeling peregrine falcons at Symonds Yat Rock in Forest of Dean.

Forage for blackberries, plums and cherries and enjoy the birdsong, for the exodus is about to begin. The cuckoos have gone, and the swifts are packing up ready for their annual migration. 

Escape to the forest this summer.

Autumn in the forest

September is harvest time and the first indicators of autumn. The blackberries are still ripe if the birds haven’t beaten you to it before they journey to warmer climes. Hazelnuts and sweet chestnuts are appearing and nearly 1,000 ancient oaks at Sherwood Forest are among the first to take on the brown-gold hues of autumn.

October is the month of autumn’s glory. As the burnished colours spread across the landscape, the wildlife is busy preparing for the cold months ahead. Hedgehogs and dormice are fattening themselves up before they hibernate, and our own foraging now includes the wonderful variety of fungi that appear on misty mornings. Up in Scotland, the red deer rutting season has begun and it’s a hard-fought battle for supremacy.

November ushers in the first frosts and the winter hibernation begins. The trees become increasingly bare, all the better to see the night sky. On 17 -18 November, the Leonids meteor shower sends shooting stars across the sky.

A perfect autumn experience awaits.

Winter returns to the forest

December and winter begins once again, the forest becoming ever quieter. Snows may fall, and hardy little robins hop about, dining on winter berries. 

Tawny owls hoot across the night air and the Geminids bring more shooting stars on 13 and 14 December. As Christmas approaches, another year in the forest draws to a close.

Which is your favourite season? Make your connection with the turning of the seasons even stronger on a Forest Ranger Adventure. The year ahead is yours to discover...